Iron Silver Mining Co. v. Cheesman,
116 U.S. 529 (1886)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Iron Silver Mining Co. v. Cheesman, 116 U.S. 529 (1886)

Iron Silver Mining Co. v. Cheesman

Argued December 18, 21, 1885

Decided January 25, 1886

116 U.S. 529


The Act of Congress, § 2322 Revised Statutes, gives to the owner of a mineral vein or lode, not only all that is covered by the surface lines of his established claim as those lines are extended vertically, but it gives him the right

Page 116 U. S. 530

to possess and enjoy that lode or vein by following it when it passes outside of those vertical lines laterally.

But this right is dependent, outside of the lateral limits of the claim, upon its being the same vein as that within those limits. For the exercise of this right, it must appear that the vein outside is identical with and a continuation of the one inside those lines.

The acts of Congress use the words vein, lode, or ledge as embracing a more or less continuous body of mineral, lying within a well defined boundary of other rock, in the mass within which it is found, or, it may be said, to be a body of mineral, or a mineral body of rock within defined boundaries in this general mass.

A vein is by no means always a straight line or of uniform dip or thickness or richness of mineral matter throughout its course. The cleft or fissure in which a vein is found may be narrowed or widened in its course, and even closed for a few feet and then found further on, and the mineral deposit may be diminished or totally suspended for a short distance, but if found again in the same course with the same mineral within that distance, its identity may be presumed.

But if the mineral disappears or the fissure with its walls of the same rock disappears so that its identity can no longer be traced, the right to pursue it outside of the perpendicular lines of claimants' survey is gone.

Whether any deposit of mineral matter about which a contest arises before a court or jury has been shown to belong to one of these veins within a prior location is a question to be decided by the application of these principles to all the evidence in the case.

When the court instructs the jury in a manner sufficiently clear and sound as to the rules applicable to the case, it is not bound to give other instructions asked by counsel on the same subject, whether they are correct or not.

This was an action in ejectment to recover possession of mineral lands in Colorado. The facts which make the case are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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